Illustration by Steve Parker/CC and Jorge Rivas/Fusion

Cruz Reynoso, a professor emeritus at UC Davis School of Law, was the first Latino to serve on the California Supreme Court.


As a grandfather, the tragic shooting of Kate Steinle at San Francisco's pier 14 saddens my soul.

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To her family, I offer my condolences.

Unfortunately, finger-pointing and scapegoating have swirled since this tragedy occurred.

Some ideologues, like Donald Trump, have sought to use the actions one person is accused of to slander all 11 million undocumented people - and, indeed, all 54 million Latinos - who call the United States home.

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As a long-time judge, I’ve observed that the first version of events we hear frequently does not tell us the full story.

It's imperative to take a comprehensive look at all the facts in this tragedy in order to craft effective solutions.

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The first question is how the man accused of the shooting came to San Francisco.

The suspect, Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was already in federal custody, yet was sent to San Francisco from the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a 20-year-old warrant for marijuana charges. The evidence for this charge had long since been purged, but the warrant still existed.

A common-sense solution presents itself: cleanse the system of these outdated warrants.

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The next question concerns the immigration "hold" or detainer which ICE officials placed one on the suspect when he came into local custody.

A core principle of the American legal system is that no human being can be detained or searched without a valid reason. Police cannot search your house, go through your car, or arrest you without justification. The decision is not an officer's to make, but falls to a judge. (Judges must quickly review arrests made on the street.)  Enshrined in the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, the origins of this principle go all the way back to England.

Unfortunately, ICE holds do not have any kind of oversight from our legal system. They have caused even U.S. citizens (some wrongfully deported in the past, an experience my own family faced many years ago), permanent residents, and crime victims to be wrongly held for extra time and turned over for deportation. A federal court confirmed last year in Miranda-Olivares vs. Clackamas that without judicial review, the holds are unconstitutional.

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Other contact between local law enforcement and immigration authorities - who already receive the fingerprints of everyone booked into jail automatically - should also be very carefully considered. It could easily lead to scenarios where a survivor of domestic violence calls police for help, gets mistakenly arrested along with the abuser, and is then turned over to ICE, jeopardizing confidence in law enforcement. It could easily lead to detentions that violate the Constitution.

Sadly, the House of Representatives has just passed a profoundly misguided bill that ignores these principles, putting community trust policies at risk. And unfortunately, California Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Rep. Jackie Speier have also announced they may consider a version of this legislation to coerce locals to "turn over" for deportation immigrants who may have certain records.

This could violate the 10th Amendment separation of powers between federal and local governments.

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Moreover, we need to ensure that the current debate doesn't paint a false picture of immigrant communities. A new report from the American Immigration Council found that between 1990 and 2013, as the number of undocumented immigrants increased from 3.5 million to 11.2 million, the nation's violent crime rate declined 48 percent.

But what about immigrants who do have convictions?

We must bear in mind that many who have had felonies in their pasts have been rehabilitated and now lead productive lives.  For example, Daniel Maher heads up recycling operations for an environmental agency in Berkeley, CA and serves as an instructor in a program which trains at-risk youth for jobs in the environmental sector. Maher, currently facing deportation under federal priorities, recently stated: "I was young, and I made a mistake. But I worked hard to turn my life around. I am not a risk to the public."

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This is the time to embrace our values of truth, justice, and fairness ‚Äď not to abandon them.

Cruz Reynoso, a professor emeritus at UC Davis School of Law, was the first Latino to serve on the California Supreme Court.